Elizabethton, TN Private Plane Crash, Apr 1966


Elizabethton, Tenn. (AP) - Two prominent couples from Columbus, Ohio, en route to cheer for golfer Jack Nicklaus in the Masters Tournament, died in the fiery crash of a twin-engine plane near here Wednesday night.
The plane was piloted by ROBERT K. BARTON, 33, amateur golfer and law partner of former U.S. Sen. and Ohio Gov. John W. Bricker.
The other victims were BARTON'S 32-year-old wife and MR. and MRS. JAMES KETTLER LONG, both 38.
In Columbus, both couples were identified as close friends of Nicklaus, who begins defense of his championship in the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta, Ga., today.
Investigators from the Federal Aviation Agency in Nashville began an investigation of the crash immediately.
Witnesses said the plane, flying on one engine, came over the area at low altitude and took a nose dive when it appeared to lose power on its second engine.
The aircraft hit a parked car, burst into flames and cartwheeled into a plowed field approximately 60 yards from a farm home. Eight persons were inside the home.
"The plane came down in a swirl and splattered gas and flames everywhere," said Mike Tester, 11, son of James Tester on whose farm the crash occurred.
Highway Patrolman Frank Richardson said the plane's pilot had notified the Tri-City Airport control tower at nearby Barton that one of its engines was icing up. The report came about two minutes before the crash, about 100 miles east of Knoxville.
The control tower suggested that the pilot attempt an emergency landing at another small air strip about four miles from the crash site.
Workers at the Little Johnson City Airport began setting up makeshift lighting but seconds later received word that the craft was down.
"All four people were still in the cockpit of the plant," reported Carter County Sheriff Sam Frost.
"I don't believe any of them lived an instant after the plane hit the ground."
The FAA, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and funeral homes here and in Columbus pieced together identifications from markings on the seared aircraft and the flight plan filed by BARTON before the plane left Ohio State University Airport near Columbus Wednesday.
The victims were sports enthusiasts, and BARTON recently had been on a hunting trip with Nicklaus. LONG was an executive with the David Davies Packing Co. of Columbus.
BARTON was the grandson of the late Common Pleas Court Judge John R. King of Columbus. MRS. LONG, the daughter of a prominent Columbus physician, was the sister of Dr. Robert Murphy, the team physician for the Ohio State University football team.

The Evening Review East Liverpool Ohio 1966-04-07